So many people I talk with are stressed out and living crazy hectic lives. They usually feel guilty about taking time to relax or think that it’s too indulgent, but in fact it’s one of the healthiest things you can do for your body. Sometimes we like to think that we are like the energizer bunny and we can just keep going and going and going, but unfortunately we will burn ourselves out by going too much which will in turn have a dangerous effect on our health.
Now, I know some of you will just skim over this and may not even read it when you see the subject line because you think you don’t need to relax or you think I’m nuts by even suggesting that someone like you with a crazy hectic lifestyle even has time to think about resting for a minute.
First, I’m going to explain why we all need to learn to take time to let our bodies and our minds relax:
Studies show that sleep and rest are essential building blocks of the body and mind; you learn better if you take a nap after studying and retain more information long term.
You become stronger and leaner more quickly if you periodize your training (taking rest days, and easy weeks).
Pushing your body into overdrive will manifest physically through tight neck and shoulders and usually digestive malfunctions such as gas, bloating, acid reflux and all the symptoms that come along with an imbalance of good and bad gut flora.
You can also say hello to hormonal havoc in your body as cortisol and adrenaline are being pumped through your blood without you even knowing it; the boost of these hormones long term causing your body adrenal exhaustion and an overall hormonal imbalance that can lead to some nasty complications such as depression, weight gain, estrogen dominance, insulin resistance (stress has a direct impact on your blood sugar levels), chronic fatigue and fertility issues. And of course, this will accelerate the ageing process!
What’s worse than this? People nowadays are adding extra stress to their already stressed out life. “I need to run for an hour today after work,” “I need to see this friend and that friend,” “I have a to-do-list that is never ending,” etc.
Mentally, you are internalizing a lot of negativity and losing touch with your own body, which will result in emotional turmoil. You’ll end up with the worst version of your own self – stressed, tired, mentally slow and physically vulnerable.
Try to take a few moments out of each day and do some deep breathing exercises or just close your eyes and think of something happy and relaxing. I know it can be hard, but even if you can only take one minute, it will be so good for your body and mind.
Schedule it into your calendar like a meeting with yourself or add it to that never-ending to-do-list. Add it to your “Way of Life” app, which is an app to help you keep track of your healthy habits. If you like to write things down in an old fashioned planner, Life & Apples has my favorite wellness planners. (use code: CARRIEFIT for 10% off)
Your body works so hard for you all day every day; treat it like your temple, and give it some time to replenish. You wouldn’t leave your car to run without a service! You even let your computer sleep! Treat yourself with even that level of respect & love your body.
I know it can be hard and is something you need to make into a healthy habit, but start slowly and make it a daily habit.
One thing I used to do when I was stressed out working on the computer for hours at a time was use a website called “Do Nothing for 2 Minutes” which is just what it says…it’s a beautiful beach scene with sounds of the ocean and if you touch your keyboard or your mouse it will start over again…so try this when you are stressed out and need 2 minutes to rest and relax and calm your mind.
When you take the time to sit and rest even for a few minutes a day (this is why meditation or mindfulness is so powerful), you are allowing your body on a cellular level to recharge itself. Having a simple bath or shower with a few diaphragmatic breaths can be enough to just re-charge yourself.
Because when you do, you will actually find that you are more present and have more energy for your children, partner and greater clarity of mind to perform at work and to get through the day without being angry at the world.
What I do to incorporate rest into my life:
- Daily yoga practice
- Daily breathingexercises: 20 diaphragm breaths every night before bed time.
- Stretching after workout and before bed
- Inhaling essential oils (Lavender essential oil is one of my fave for calming the mind. Cedarwood is another!)
- ½ hour of reading
- ½ hour walk
- Massage – get your blood flowing (I love using a massage ball or my foam roller)
- Acupressure to restore energy flow, ease tension and headaches
- Sitting in the sunshine soaking up that good loving Vitamin D
- Listening to music
- My evening skincare routine is relaxing before bed and a ritual that I love doing.
- 8 hours of sleep
- My favorite TV show
- I say “NO” to social arrangements when I am feeling overwhelmed, and instead I choose to lay low, read, walk or do yoga. You can’t be there for everyone, all the time, and in all places. Instead of stressing yourself out, just say no.
It is okay if you wake up some days and think “today is a day I need to give my body a rest.” When you are in balance, your body will tell you what it needs! It is okay to listen – your body is smart.
Stay Healthy my Friends!
Carrie A Groff